Lady Isabella will soon turn again

By Siobhan Fletcher   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 23rd July 2022 11:00 am
@siobhanfletcher
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Restoration works at the Laxey Wheel as photographed back in March. The scaffolding will be removed over the next month, and she will turn once again (Dave Kneale/Isle of Man Newspapers )

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The Laxey Wheel will fully reopen to the public at the end of August.

It’s as phase one of the restoration project winds down.

Money spent on the project so far totals between £560,000 and £650,000.

Garff MHK Daphne Caine tabled a question regarding the project’s progress at this week’s Tynwald sitting.

Ayre and Michael MHK Tim Johnston took questions at this week’s sitting on behalf of the Department for Enterprise following Tim Crookall’s abrupt departure from the department on Tuesday morning.

Mr Johnston was asked what progress has been made with Laxey Wheel restoration by Garff MHK Daphne Caine.

She also wanted to know when the landmark will reopen, and what further work will be required on it.

Mr Johnston stated that Manx National Heritage, who have been overseeing the restoration project have been working hard to restore the tourist attraction, and that the project typifies the challenges faced when restoring assets in their care for future generations.

He stated that the work on the wheel has required a ‘bespoke approach to maintenance and repair’ due to the historic nature of the structure, with its traditional construction.

He also confirmed that some issues were only discovered once scaffolding was erected around it.

He said: ‘This has understandably led to delays to repairs, which are now due to be completed in full for phase one by the end of August, subject to resolving a technical issue with the wheel case.

‘The broader Laxey Wheel site has not been closed to visitors during the conservation work, so will not need to reopen. However, removal of the scaffolding will commence imminently, which will allow the wheel to be revealed.’

Manx National Heritage also confirmed this directly to the Manx Independent.

A spokesperson said: ‘Manx National Heritage will reach a milestone in the Laxey Wheel’s history by early September when works will conclude in the area around the wheel casing. Scaffolding will gradually be removed during August, with the wheel gradually revealed in all her glory.’

Whilst the work has been taking place, special hard hat tours have been arranged to assist in promoting the understanding of the significant work being undertaken at the site.

A tender process is currently taking place for phase two of the work, which is hoped to begin in August for completion by March 2023.

One third of the wheel buckets and wheel rims are currently in the process of being replaced, with the other two thirds to be replaced over a six year period.

This work will not affect the wheel as a visitor attraction.

Mrs Caine also questioned the impact the works have had on Laxey businesses.

She argued that as the major tourist attraction has been ‘under wraps for this season’ it has affected visitor numbers and the economy of Laxey.

Mr Johnston stated that whilst any businesses affected should reach out for support.

He stated that whilst he appreciates the repairs are taking longer than expected, it was important to do it properly to preserve it for the future.

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